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WesternSFA
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
by Spider Robinson
copyright 1977, 170 pp
Here’s a little blast from the past, the first of Spider Robinson’s Callahan stories. I thought I would start at the front and work my way through them over the next few months. This is a collection of short stories that all take place within a bar called Callahan’s and they all have the same voice and viewpoint – Jake, one of the regulars. Many of them were originally published in Analog or Vertex.

The idea of the bar is that it is an oasis of calm and, occasionally, redemption in the midst of societal insanity. It’s said that only those people who need Callahan’s ever find Callahan’s. Once inside, a fellow with a problem might find empathy, compassion, sympathy and even forgiveness but only if he also comes with responsibility and atonement. It is a guy book; mostly, I think, because bars and saloons have a decidedly masculine nature. With the rare exception, all the characters are male. Even the aliens.

I remember enjoying these stories some twenty-plus years ago and wondered if they stood the test of time. They do for me. They may not be to the taste of a younger generation raised on epic fantasy journeys or wildly fantastical steampunk stories. They are somewhat introspective and quiet; I sort of feel like I’m in a quiet place when I’m reading these stories. The characters may feel a bit quaint and some of the language is certainly dated but isn’t that what time travel is about? There are telepaths and aliens and save-the-world from aliens who want to eat us. I like the idea of a place to go to where one would be believed. I like the flavor of the men’s minds and characters. I love the puns. ~ Catherine Book

BONUS FOR EVERYONE WHO READ THIS FAR: When I’m done reviewing the whole series, there will be a Trivia Contest and the winner will win my whole Callahan collection. Stay tuned…

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